About Jeremy Burnside

About Jeremy Burnside

Jeremy M. Burnside (1978-2022)

Jeremy M. Burnside (1978-2022) will be remembered for his spirited and tireless efforts at revitalizing the City of Portsmouth, Ohio. It is thanks to the vision and work of Jeremy and his wife, Maddie, that Milton Kennedy’s historic three-story building (constructed, 1852) has been preserved and renovated for use by another generation of city residents.

Jeremy was a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of Brooklyn High School (Class of 1996). He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Charleston (West Virginia) before becoming a legislative intern and analyst for the West Virginia Senate Committee on the Judiciary. While working in the Senate, Jeremy found a mentor in Sen. William R. Wooton, who went on to serve as a Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Sen. Wooton helped advise Jeremy on his decision to go into the practice of law.

In 2004, Jeremy graduated from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. After practicing his new profession in Cleveland for five years, he made the decision to move to Portsmouth, Ohio. He soon established a successful law practice in the city and the larger tristate region. In 2012, Jeremy married Maddie Rutman, a Scioto County native. He went on to establish the Friends of Portsmouth, a civic organization that has played a key role in the city’s revitalization since the mid-2010s. Jeremy’s community-building efforts included rallying residents to set three Guiness World Records, helping raise civic pride and changing the news media’s negative narrative about the Portsmouth community.

In the Summer of 2020, Jeremy was instrumental in establishing the Portsmouth Unity Project, a civic group that has promoted racial unity and celebrated the city’s history of interracial cooperation in support of freedom and equality. At the time, Jeremy noted: “We are drawing inspiration from the rich and diverse history of the city while, at the same time, recognizing the need to break down today’s barriers. In our efforts at community revitalization, we need to build bridges within and across our community.”

Leading by example, Jeremy and Maddie purchased the building at 526 Second Street in 2019. Herein, the legacies of Milton Kennedy — the abolitionist, Underground Railroad conductor, and Portsmouth entrepreneur — and those of Jeremy Burnside — the underdog’s attorney, Portsmouth booster, and beloved friend and family man — are joined together. As a monument to the life’s work of these two “odd fellows,” their lives and this building will long inspire the people of Portsmouth, Ohio.